As someone who made futile attempts to rock turntables back in high school, I have at least some idea of what it takes to rock the crowd. Correction–I know that making people move isn’t as easy as it looks. Being able to make 1,000 or so people move on Easter Sunday? Not the easiest thing in the world. However, DJ/producer/musician/songwriter/singer RJD2 did that and then some at The Paradise Rock Club in Boston.
Also not as easy as it looks? Writing a review of a show at which there was no singing and no band, except for the drummer that provided a little extra danceable thump. As a fan of RJ’s since I heard Since We Last Spoke courtesy of my friend Eric in 2004, I’ve actually missed him performing in Boston on three or four occasions prior to being able to make this most recent show. As it turned out, the show was worth the wait.
As a child of the real hip-hop generation (actually, only about 96 hours separate my and RJ’s birth dates,) I have a lot of respect for turntablism. RJ switched between decks (and manipulated a sampler) with as much precision and emotion as any guitarist and didn’t even fall into the trap of splicing in the latest Nicki Minaj or LMFAO hit in order to get a crowd reaction. Actually, the most recognizable non-RJ musical moment-which featured the late Guru’s verse from Gang Starr’s “DWYCK”-barely got a response from the audience…I’m just gonna go ahead and say that the majority of the crowd either wasn’t born or was still in diapers when that song was a hit. Ah well. I rapped along. Because I’m old.
Unsurprisingly, RJ seems like a pretty affable dude in real life. He spent a significant period of time after his set shaking hands, taking pictures, and socializing with members of the audience. As someone who appreciates when musicians he likes are not dicks, that drove him up several notches on my “favorite musicians” list. I forgot to ask him if there were any plans for a new Soul Position record, though. Next time.
At any rate, for those who are unfamiliar with RJ’s music (and I actually made the acquaintance of one kid who hadn’t heard of him prior to the show,) I strongly suggest you catch up. Whether you get into any of his four solo albums, or check out his work with rapper Blueprint as 1/2 of Soul Position, or pick up his latest project, Icebird, with vocalist Aaron Livingston, you’re in for a treat. There’ll be something in there to satisfy the soul fan, the hip-hop head, and the indie rock snob in you.